“We are all part of God — he is in our heart. The God of love is Krishna. The one and only goal of life is to experience the pure love of God.”
Pretty intense, I know. But I found this philosophy of the Hare Krishnas to be very beautiful. I do not consider myself religious or belonging to any religious group, I choose to accept all religions because all of them contain universal truths. And the Krishnas have a lot of beautiful truths. In 2018 I volunteered for 3 weeks at Varsana — a Krishna temple near Bogota, Colombia. Many of the philosophies I learnt about on my travels around the world I found again in the Krishna Temple.
The 4 Dont’s
- Do not eat meat — follow a vegetarian diet. All things inhabit a soul, and you should not take any soul’s life.
- Do not gamble.
- Do not have sex before marriage, or only in a spiritual relationship. Sex distracts your soul from the yogic path.
- Do not consume any drugs, coffee, tea, tobacco, alcohol or natural medicines (like marihuana, ayahuasca etc) as these substances cloud your vision.
The Krishnas are very strict when it comes to the rules they follow. Yes, they seem very radical, but in the end, they have as a goal the elevating of the consciousness. And let’s be real here — bad food, gambling, sex & drugs are the major problems of today’s society — because they are used in an unconscious way. Comparing to the hippie way of life, the 2 cultures definitely have some common ground — like the love for animals, connection with nature, spiritual practices and especially the focus on unconditional love.
Learn to Listen
At the time I was working in the Krishna temple, my Spanish wasn’t that good. But something really magical happened, once I stopped listening with my mind and started to listen with my heart — I was able to understand Spanish perfectly. I worked with the medicine woman of the temple which was preparing oils, tinctures and plant medicine. We had the most inspiring talks — even though she didn’t speak a word English. And when she looked at me, she looked at my soul.
Do you know a person that doesn’t just look at you — but through you?
It is the scariest thing when someone REALLY looks at you. Because let’s be honest, in our daily life that rarely happens. We are so involved in our own stuff and inner conversations that we have forgotten how to really listen — not only at the words, but at that which lies behind the words — & how to really look at someone — not their shell, but their essence. When someone really looks at you, you cannot hide any more behind your appearance, clothes, attitude or opinions. You are naked. Open.
Why? Because through the eyes we connect with each other, seeing the vast universe that is inside all of us. The problem in today’s world is that we have forgotten how to look inside. We are all searching for something outside — experiences, pleasures, adrenaline, love, attention. But the answer to that one question we all ask ourselves can only be found inside.
Food is There to Share
The Krishnas do not use any products of big cooperations like nestle and coca-cola, as these companies pollute the planet. They have their own organic garden with hundreds of veggies, fruits, flowers and herbs — which is spectacular. They prepare all their food themselves using only fresh natural ingredients and no animal products. I worked in both the garden and the kitchen.
It’s such a joy eating the food that you plant, harvest and prepare. This should be the natural cycle, shouldn’t it?
They serve food 3 times a day, and they always prepare and serve a lot of food. This habit comes from India because they are not only cooking for themselves but for God — and God is abundance. Before they eat anything, they always first offer food to Krishna.
I see a lot of similarities to the indigenous cultures of Colombia — which always first offer food to Pachamama (mother earth) before they eat. It’s a way of showing respect. Every Sunday the Krishnas invite everyone to join their feast — so people from outside can come and eat for free.
If you are interested to try their food, they operate vegetarian Restaurants called GOVINDA in many cities all over the globe.
Getting High on Mantras
What an extraordinary experience! Chanting is a form of meditation for the Hare Krishnas, where they connect with the higher power through the vibration of music.
We sang 2 mantras, one for health and one for the divine power. How it works is the monk sings the mantra and everyone repeats after him.
When the whole room started singing enchanting words in a mystical language, I got serious goosebumps.
There is so much vibration in the air and the voices join together to form a beautiful wave of sound, that goes directly to your heart. We sang for one hour and it felt like 10 minutes. After a while, you really get into a trance, and the words pour out of you without control. My body started moving in the rhythm of the drums and I couldn’t help myself but join in clapping as well. After this session, I felt incredibly happy and at peace and full of energy. And the words are still echoing in my head to this day.
Mantra 1: surrendering to the higher power
Om Namo (I bow to)
Vasudevaya (another name for Krishna)
Hari (another name for Vishnu)
Mantra 2: connection with the divine
Hare Krishna Hare Krishna
Krishna Krishna (he who is attractive to everyone)
Hare Hare (god’s energy)
Hare Rama Hare Rama
Rama Rama (one who gives pleasure and enjoys life)
There are 3 main gods in the Hindu religion
- Vishnu — the preserver of life, has many incarnations,
- Brahma — the creator of the universe, father of all) and
- Shiva — the destroyer of ignorance.
Together they are the Trimurti. Krishna is an incarnation of Vishnu, the God of mercy and childhood, often portrait with blue skin and a flute. He liked to play pranks when he was a child and steel butter. The most interesting part of the stories is Krishna’s role as a lover. He is said to have made love to thousands of women as an adult, enchanting them with his flute. Fascinating, especially regarding the Hare Krishna’s rules.
Why You Should Question Everything
When I was there, a spiritual master of the Krishnas was visiting from Austria. I want to share one of his teachings with you:
He said there are 3 ways in which people are living nowadays:
- EXPLOITATION — Those people exploit natural resources for economic gains like air, water, wood, oil, energy and animals. They also exploit each other — for status, money or pleasure. Why do they do that? Because they simply don’t know better.
- RENOUNCEMENT — Those people reject the system we are living incompletely. They don’t get involved in normal life, they prefer to live secluded in nature, far away from society. The reason for that kind of lifestyle is pure ignorance.
- DEDICATION — Those people dedicate their entire life to a higher cause. They give their time, energy and intention to this cause. They renounce individualism & live in a community, like an ashram.
Which one are you living?
I guess most of us find ourselves in category number 1. Most of the planet to be fair. The other 2 lifestyles are quite radical. In my opinion, we have to find a way to change our system so we can live in balance with nature instead of exploiting her, supporting each other instead of competing & connecting back with our spirituality instead of living in ignorance.
There is no perfect way. And there is for sure no manual. But if we start to question the way we are used to living and begin listening to our heart, we will understand that we already have all the answers inside of us.
“You have to learn to inquire, question, challenge, even if you don’t know where it will take you. I prefer the atheist that is asking question to the devotee that is just following. Because he who is intelligent, will not follow a religion blindly.”
The people I encountered at the temple are all very kind, nature is incredibly healing and the food delicious. They follow a beautiful philosophy, to which I can relate to in many ways, if not in all. I think it’s on each one to explore what the Krishnas have to offer, I am sure that you can also find some truth to take home.
How you can volunteer in a Krishna temple?
Thank you for appreciating my art!